Floorcraft: Dancing Small

West Coast Swing Online Grab Bag

The skill of floorcraft is essential for dancing in a crowded bar or ballroom. Whether it’s the start of late night at a convention and everyone is eager to dance after the pro show, or it’s midnight at a club and you’re surrounded by drunks with no sense of space, being able to keep yourself and your partner safe on the dance floor can mean the difference between a fun dance and a painful disaster.

Learning to dance small is one of the best ways to protect your space in a crowded environment. This set of drills is designed to keep your dancing contained so that you can share the dance floor safely with whomever is around.

The Drill—Solo Version: Use chairs, shoes, or other accessories to mark out a small space in your practice area. Practice doing your basic patterns while staying within the boundaries of that area. For followers, this means keeping your slot short. For leaders, this means that you should move slightly in opposition to where your follower is going in order to shorten the slot. Leaders: do not let this become your basic! This is a variation that you use in order to keep an unusually short slot.

The Drill—Partner Version: Set up your practice area in the same way. With a partner, again do your basic patterns while remaining within the boundaries of your small space.

In normal WCS, the leader remains near the centerpoint of the slot at all times, with the follower moving from one end of the slot to the other. In this drill, make your connection point the center of the slot instead. Both partners will move from one end of the slot to the other in order to keep the connection point around the middle of the slot. Again, this is a variation: bad things will happen if you let this become your basic movement pattern!

In both the solo and partner versions of the drills, you can gradually shrink your practice space until you are comfortable dancing at a closed position distance at all times. You should be able to do your basic WCS within a 2’x4′ slot.

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